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Work began on the fence, with the entrance being the first section. My dad lent a pair of hands, and a pair of spirit levels, to help create what appears, without fencey context, to be a Fringe-style portal to a parallel universe over by the hedge. ‘Tis a world much like our own, only sunny in summer time.

Some precision measuring, and less precise grunting spade-and-trowel work, took a couple of hours out of the morning. It’s over that side to take advantage of the paved path, mainly.

Note the partially-tidied privet hedge (left of pic), another fathers day tick list item, which had to be abandoned owing to short extension lead issues and on account of the June skies dulling once more. Solstice sunrise and full moon seem unlikely to be visible if the weather continues in its current sogginess. Got the lawns done, at least, so the grass is enjoying the showers.

Super productive evening as we turned a chord noodle from the notebook into a choice new number.

There were also some actual tears of laughter over counting misfires:
“One… One… One… SAKE.”

And

“So, that’s six, two, four, two, three?”
“No, the second two is part of the three. The two is just the first bit of the three, twice.”
“Right…”

June’s persistently dour sky cracked a grin twice today, which was all the time needed to dig in the legs of the platform base and heave the henhouse into place.

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Pallet screwed to four posts to raise it up for a little shady area, henhouse fixed on top of that. The base’s legs are dug-in about a foot, and the exploratory spadework for that revealed several areas where a former ornamental pebble garden has been submerged with topsoil. Not at all easy to dig through, and prompting a rethink of the positioning for the fence posts.

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These are eight feet in length, so  need about two feet of foundation. Can you dig it? I hummed, Mock Turtlishly. We need to fence in the fowl, to avoid any unfortunate incidents with the local cats who use this section of the garden as a cut-through, and of course to keep out urban foxes.  I’m fairly sure it’s only that one corner that’s pebbled, but the perimeter may end up taking an odd line if I unearth any other obstructions. Still hoping for a buried priceless classic car, obviously, although further discarded bags of cement that have become solid pillows of immovable matter seem more likely:

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Sleeping on’t, he dreamed of chickens ascending and descending a small wooden staircase, illumin’d by crepuscular rays.

So, yes, fence next.

We’d bumped into each other at the GUM clinic. I’d walked into the crowded waiting room of desperately casual out-patients, my first thought being ‘So many dirty fuckers!’, my next being ‘Oh fuck, it’s Jimmy!’. Not through embarrassment, more an amused moment of simultaneous recognition. We both broke into grins that we were there, and sat and nattered with only the slightest of awkwardnesses until it was time whichever one of us had to go off first to get our waters siphoned and urethras scraped.

A couple of hours later and we were coincidentally discharged, or maybe dismissed is a better word in context. At the exit, we both pointed towards the leafy garden of the White Swan and said ‘Pint?’ with a matching hand/forearm gesture, in an amused moment of happily resigned certainty. It was one in the afternoon.

Now, Jimmy Duggan slumps against his beer. He doesn’t like the band on the juke box. ‘Is there anything worth saying about them? Their art means nothing to me.’ He knits his fingers round the straight pint glass. The sun’s shining in his face and he’s squinting as it’s glaring, the backwards lettering of a beer logo in the big window of the pub shading his mouth and frown. It’s two in the afternoon.

Outside in the baking heat of the park next to the boozer, I can hear kids screaming with early summer delight. The rattle and roll of scooter wheels and plastic beads on bike spokes. I don’t think Jimmy is hearing this, but you never know.

‘The fucking kids!’ He gulps down at least half a pint, as if the mere sound is enough. Refreshed, maybe a bit dewier of eye, he softens and purses his lips. ‘Headachey,’ he mitigates. He’s been talking with alternate bitterness and what is meant to be wry detachment about “The Scene”, with capitals, in quotes, as he insists on pronouncing it, for about at least 40 minutes. He seems to not want to talk about anything real. The knitted fingers are a bit trembly when he unlaces them and runs a hand through his hair. His barnet’s longer and less kempt than I recall from last time I saw him, which may have been six months, about, at least. He’s overall a bit unattended looking. Wearing loafers sockless, cardie buttoned up wrongly – buttoned up at all, on, in these temperatures. He is thin and distracted.

That’s when he mentions the cause of his headache, who he’s been seeing, and my bollocks retreat inside.

Oma brought round some bags of play sand today, very thoughtfully.

I’ll just put the little wooden sandpit back together, then, I thought confidently.

Some hours later…

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Silas Marner, the deceptively slight novel by George Eliot, can still pose problems for modern, young readers. If you are unfamiliar with the book, the main character is an alienated weaver-turned-miser who loses his gold but regains his soul (etc). He has two leather bags full of guineas, gold coins he likes to fondle lovingly.

Tonight I was marking some empathic work from students – mostly diary entries in character. One of them had written:

My genies. My golden shiny genies. Why did you have to leave me?

The recasting of Silas Marner as a magical realist tale woven through with 1001 Nights is a wonderful notion. It even got better:

Gem Rodney, I bet it was that man. He was always jealous of my genies. Oh, how my genies overpowered his.

…and a jinn warfare aspect would certainly enliven the novel for a contemporary teen audience.

While we’re mashing:

Busy tonight fending off an end-of-school-tomorrow tutor reports deadline.

Faced with an Eiger of commentary to generate, and with the view that parents have enough text to wade through with up to 11 course content and individual progress updates, I lapse into fantasias of form tutor comments being something brief yet expressive. Haiku, say:

A mixed view for Sean:
Articulates ideas well,
Yet forgets his pen.

or semi-gnomic aphorism:

Sinéad’s approach to school is a Facebook riddle wrapped in a Snapchat mystery inside an Instagram enigma.

Regrettably, though, such brevity is frowned on. There is consequently a lot of paraphrase of already euphemistic analysis, finding ways to spin positively a recalcitrant student’s impending examination disasters, owing to their tendency to fanny about all the livelong day.

Tutor reports at least give one a chance to rehumanise the youth a bit. Stuff like the award for tidiest room, or the predilection for building mini robots, or the swimming trophies, or the surprise knack for a riffle shuffle executed exquisitely, or the prize essay based on ‘Nighthawks’, from the point of view of the window… these are worth mentioning far more than their granularly-graded hoop- jumping capacity.

One might go on. Regrettably, also, though… these things won’t write themselves.

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Hey! Teacher!

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